Subdued celebrations at Mohammed Siraj's house


By Mohammed Shafeeq

Hyderabad, Jan 19 (IANS): Celebrations were subdued at the residence of Mohammed Siraj, the new cricketing hero, after India scripted a historic victory over Australia in the fourth Test in Brisbane to win the four-match series 2-1 on Tuesday.

Relatives and friends poured in at Siraj's house at Toli Chowki here to congratulate the family over India's victory and the key role the seamer played. However, for Siraj's mother Shabana Begum, brother Mohammed Ismail and other family members, it was a mixed feeling.

The family is yet to overcome the loss of Siraj's father Mohammed Ghouse, who could not live to see his son play for the country. Ghouse passed away on November 20, days after Siraj reached Australia with the team.

Siraj couldn't make it to India for the last rites of his father due to the coronavirus restrictions. The team was in the middle of a 14-day quarantine period and was training in isolation when Siraj received the shocking news.

The youngster lost his biggest support as Ghouse, an autorickshaw driver, always encouraged him and wanted to see him play for the country.

Siraj's relatives and friends say he paid the right tribute to his father by coming out with a superb performance to give India a historic win.

His family members are happy over the team's victory and his performance, but the celebrations were subdued.

"It's a mixed feeling for us. On one hand we are happy over the win and the way Siraj performed, while on the other we are sad over losing our father recently," Siraj's elder brother Ismail told IANS.

"If our father was with us today, he would have been happier. Our mother is happy over the win and Siraj's performance but she is unable to express this due to the tragedy in the family," he added.

Ismail, a software professional, said that Siraj worked hard to come up on his own and reach this stage. "His hard work has paid off. The motivation and inspiration came from our father. It's the blessings of our parents. We thank Almighty Allah for giving us this success and whatever we are today," he said.

Siraj's childhood friend Irfan Khan told IANS that his hard work and determination lifted him to the status of a sporting hero.

Siraj started playing cricket at the age of seven. "We played together and he had extraordinary passion for the game," said Khan, now a businessman.

Khan recalled that they grew up playing in Ahmed Nagar, where Siraj's family lived in a small rented house before moving to Toli Chowki in 2018, a few months after the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad signed him for a whopping Rs 2.6 crore.

Siraj, who never went to a coaching academy, made his Ranji Trophy debut in 2015-16 and ended the season with 41 wickets from nine matches. Impressed with his performance, the selectors picked him for the Rest of India team for the Irani Cup. This also catapulted him to the IPL auctions.

After the IPL contract in 2017, Siraj requested his father to stop driving autorickshaw and take rest. "He struggled for us for more than 30 years. Now, he should take rest," he had said after the big break.

In 2017-18, Siraj topped the bowling charts with 23 wickets from seven games in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He was subsequently purchased by Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Silencing his critics, Siraj bowled a dream spell in the game against Kolkata Knight Riders in the last IPL on October 21. He became the first bowler in IPL history to bowl two maiden overs and ended with figures of 4-2-8-3.

 

  

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